In addition to the show put on by Dennis Wideman and the Capitals’ power play against Toronto, Friday night featured another strong performance from Alex Ovechkin.
The star left wing recorded an assist, took eight shots on goal – including several strong scoring chances — and finished a minus-1 in 20 minutes and 42 seconds of ice time in 22 shifts. But perhaps the most notable element of the scoresheet next to Ovechkin’s name was the three blocked shots he was credited with.
On a shift just over five minutes into the third period of Washington’s eventual 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs, Ovechkin had a chance to clear the puck out of the defensive zone but gave it away at his own blueline. The turnover meant that in order for Ovechkin to best help his team, he would need to get in the way of the shots Toronto players were firing.
“If you make mistakes, you can save the moment,” Ovechkin said. “When you make mistakes, then you have to do it. I think when I make mistake I said, ‘Damn, the puck goes to my D and… I have to block it.’ You just have to help the team it doesn’t matter how.”
Ovechkin, who had blocked just seven shots in the 27 prior contests this season, was credited with three blocks on that shift as he got in the way of two shots by Matt Frattin and another from Dion Phaneuf. Two of those shots went off his right arm and Ovechkin wore an ice pack on the upper part of his arm above the elbow Saturday, but the captain insisted “everything okay.”
Seeing Ovechkin scramble back in the play to block shots after his mistake led to offensive zone time for Toronto isn’t something that went unnoticed by his teammates.
“Usually when you win you’ve done something to pay the price,” Brooks Laich said. “He’s probably mad at himself he had a chance to get the puck out right before that and made a bit of a high risk play and had to make up for it by blocking two heaters. It’s good to see, especially in the third period, guys paying the price to win.”
Said Coach Dale Hunter: “That’s a great job. That’s part of hockey, you don’t want a broken foot or anything but he blocked three shots that’s a credit to him. The puck hurts and he’s doing everything he can do to win.”